Rescue deal for coach company

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A TRAVEL firm has pledged to restore the good name of a South Elmsall coach company that went bust after 50 years trading.

Ken Clarkson Ltd, which traded as Clarkson’s Coaches and Clarkson’s Holidays, closed its doors at the end of last month, leaving customers in doubt about whether their trips would go ahead.

But now a Doncaster-based tour operator has stepped in with a rescue package.

Wilfreda Beehive has acquired the name, customer database and website of Ken Clarkson Ltd and is providing a rescue package to assist the vast majority of Clarkson Holiday customers.

The firm, which also owns Eagre Holidays, has been in business for more than 60 years and is fully bonded by the BCH Bonding Scheme, which financially guarantees all customer monies.

The company has already contracted accommodation, hoteliers and other suppliers and is now contacting all customers to ensure as many people as possible can take their holidays.

It is believed up to 20 people lost their jobs at the Doncaster Road firm, which was no longer owned by the Clarkson family. The Express understands it was sold in 2008 to Mohammed Arshad but it is not known whether he owned the firm at the time of its collapse.

Leicester-based Kiran Mistry Consulting has now been appointed to deal with Clarkson’s affairs.

This week some Clarkson’s customers were still unable to travel.

Donald Wilde was due to go on a five-day, £402 holiday from Retford to Bournemouth on Monday.

He said: “I only found out Clarksons had closed because someone mentioned it to me. I had no contact from them. I tried ringing the administrators six times and when I did eventually speak to him, he said all holidays were off.

“We could have ended up waiting for the bus to arrive because nobody from the firm told us anything about the closure.”

Mary Clayton, from South Kirkby, visited the firm the week before its closure to pay some money for a previously booked holiday.

She said: “A guy behind the counter told me the credit card machine was down. I said I would come back another day but he suggested I go to the cash machine and hand over money.

“But I wasn’t going to do that and now I’m really glad I didn’t. I was lucky.”

Phil Haxby, a director of Wilfreda Beehive, said: “We would first like to say that there is no connection between us and the owners of Ken Clarkson Ltd and we have not taken on the liabilities of the company.

“However we are taking steps to offer most of Clarkson’s customers the holidays they want and the response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. My staff are working tirelessly to contact everyone affected and we believe that this will have been achieved in a matter of days.

“I would also like to confirm that the Clarkson family sold the business in 2008 and have had no involvement in the collapse of the company.

“I have been very heartened to have met with the family and to receive their support and good wishes.

“In return I have pledged to them to do our utmost to restore the goodwill to the Clarkson name and provide the best solution for all its customers.”